The Playgrounds of Ocean Beach Get a Flunking Grade

by on November 13, 2017 · 16 comments

in Ocean Beach

Ebers Street “Tot Lot”

As Ocean Beach becomes increasingly like one gigantic play ground for adults, we decided to check out the other type of playgrounds – the ones for kids, here in Ocean Beach – and see how they’re doing in comparison.  I took my 10-year-old granddaughter Bella with me to get a kid’s eye view on everything.  I asked her to give a letter grade for each playground we visited.

And we have to report back that the playgrounds of OB – in total – are not doing well. In fact, overall, they get a “D”.

Robb Field Playground = D+

The very first playground we visited was the one in Robb Field. It’s got 2 sets of swings, a tire swing, 1 small slide and a climbing dome – all within a large sand pit. And it has a few benches around part of the sand.

Robb Field equipment is over 45 years old.

Mind you, the equipment there was brand new when they were installed – way, way back in the 1970s!! Robb Field’s playground equipment is at least 45 years old – and has not been replaced.  All the equipment is metal – which means it gets hot to the touch in the dead of summer. Hardly any kids were there, either, when we came by.

“Old school” tire swing.

Bella was not very impressed with the equipment here – and especially after I told her it was older than her dad. She gave it a D+.

Dusty Rhodes playground.

Dusty Rhodes Playground = C+

Across a busy highway sits another playground on the western edge of Dusty Rhodes Park. In order to get there, you pretty much have to drive or bike over there with your kids or brave West Point Loma Drive, Sunset Cliffs Boulevard if you’re walking or pushing a stroller. So, right off the bat, it’s not very accessible.

This playground does have more modern equipment – it’s got 2+ slides, a swing, 2 different “monkey bars” and 2 sets of modern equipment. Of all the playgrounds in OB, this definitely has the best stuff to play on for larger kids.

We were there on a holiday and not a kid was there. Because it is hard to get to, we gave it a C+.

Mariner’s Cove Playground = D

Mariner’s Cove

We drove into the large expanse known as Mariner’s Cove to see if they have any playgrounds at all for the hundreds of apartments and all the kids that live there. Mariner’s Cove along Nimitz Boulevard is part of Ocean Beach. It does have a couple of swimming pools – and yet as we drove through on that holiday – we didn’t see one kid playing or out in streets or greens.

We did find a fairly small playground with modern equipment. But for all the young that presumably live there, it was tiny. Definitely not accessible to the rest of Ocean Beach either.

Small playground in Mariner’s Cove.

So, it’s okay for a few kids that live there, but in terms of being a playground for all of OB kids, it fails. We gave it a D.

Collier Park “Playground” = F

Collier Park picnic tables and horse-shoe pits.

One of the most beautiful pocket parks in OB is Collier Park West in northeast OB. It has a gently sloping hill with lots of grass, huge trees, a few benches, some picnic tables and 2 horse-shoe pits.

But no playground equipment. Not one piece.

The playground equipment used to be right here.

It used to. It had a see-saw horse, some swings and some other equipment. But when it all deteriorated from all that salt air, the equipment was taken out, piece by piece, and never replaced. I spoke to some parents during Bella’s and my visit and they commented it would be very nice if there was some equipment for small kids there.

Collier Park was part of a much larger piece of land that OB’s “father” DC Collier donated to the city. As a small park, it’s a wonderful place to throw frisbees or walk your dog on a leash, but in terms of being a playground for small kids, it fails. (I’m not suggesting either that small children always need play equipment – a large grassy field is always good to crawl or run on.)

Ebers Street Tot Lot = B+

The best playground in OB for small kids and tots is the Ebers Street “tot lot” right near the OB Rec Center – formerly called by the city “Ocean Beach Park”.

It has 2 tot slides, 1 swing set and modern equipment, all encircled by a small wall, picnic benches and grass.

Tot lot has rubberized ground material .

To top it off, it has a nice, bouncy, rubberized ground surface within the walled-off area – which did impress Bella. Larger kids, however, would get very bored here quickly. Plus, Bella thought some of the equipment was dirty, so she gave it a B+ overall.

Saratoga Street Park = F

Saratoga Street Park used to have playground equipment – and still may have some in the future.

The last park on our list was Saratoga Park – which may be renamed after OB’s historian Ruth Varney Held – the large grassy area at the foot of Saratoga Avenue, right next to the sand. It does have a few picnic tables. The park has been here for decades and every now and then it would flood and drown all the grass. The City always comes and replants the grass. Before the grass, it had a lot of sand.

And on the sand, it had playground equipment; monkey bars and a swing set. They were taken out years ago. But not replaced. So another “lost” playground for the kids of OB.

To be fair, the new plans for this park do include playground equipment. But they could be years away. In terms of the present, this park also fails as a playground.

Other Playgrounds

There are other playgrounds in Ocean Beach.

OB Elementary School

OB Elementary’s playground equipment is not accessible when the school is closed.

There’s the playground at OB Elementary School. But guess what. When the school is closed, its playground is closed. Inaccessible even to neighborhood children who can only look upon the playsets through the metal fences.

And there’s the playgrounds of private schools and of churches. All inaccessible to neighborhood children.

Of course, there’s the beach, the sea, the tide pools, but that’s nature. We were looking at human-made things for kids. Which wraps up our little study of the playgrounds of Ocean Beach.

In summary: they fail overall. We have a D+, a C+, another D, two F’s, and a B+. That is not a very good grade overall. 3 D’s, 2 F’s, a B and a C. If you came home with a report card like that, you’d probably be in trouble of flunking out.

So, who’s in trouble for the lack of good playgrounds here in OB? Who are the grown-ups responsible for providing a failing grade overall for OB’s kids and their playgrounds?

If you’re a parent – or grandparent – you might want to know.




{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty Jones November 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Nice job!


Debbie November 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Fantastic article…it shows that kid’s are not a priority to our elected public servants.

Come on people! With all the taxes everyone pays, the least you could do is give kids a fun, safe place to play. It’s time to improve these parks. ALL OF THEM


Thomas November 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm

The eucalyptus trees at the Collier park concern me. The trees are known to drop limbs in strong wind.
I worked at the City of SD Otay Water Treatment Plant when many branches fell and an entire tree fell across the power lines shutting down the plant. SDG&E was there in about three hours and restored power in another six or eight working all night.
The trees do not have a tap root.


Cory November 14, 2017 at 11:18 am

I think your review process is flawed. My almost 6 year old loves all the playgrounds. How many 10 year olds use these anymore anyways? Nothing against you, just saying that to a child in the 2-8 year old range, they are all fun. Its a simple decision. And for the areas that don’t have playsets, those are where we play catch, tag, whatever.


Frank Gormlie November 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm

The fact that 2 sets of playground equipment are gone from the playgrounds and that another set is older than dad is still out there.


rick callejon November 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Cory, I agree. The attitude of the adult sets the tone regarding the quality of playgrounds. This principle may apply to other settings and circumstances.


Frank Gormlie November 14, 2017 at 7:26 pm

It was my granddaughter who gave out the grades.


bodysurferbob November 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm

your comment is confusing; the article is how a child graded the playsets and grounds around town. what are you agreeing to? no worries, children, it’s all ok.


RB November 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Maybe tort reform is the answer. If we had a few less lawyers and lower liability cost perhaps we would have more playground equipment.


OB Joe November 14, 2017 at 9:31 pm

That sure is an idiotic response – not calling you an idiot. Yes, sure, that’s right, the lawyers are the reason OB’s playgrounds are not up to standards. Tort reform has been an issue of the extreme right for years and it’s unbelievable you raise it here on this issue. Do you have kids RB?


Ol OB Hippie November 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm

I find the responses of the adults here interesting. One fears the trees, another the study is flawed, adults set the tone, and maybe tort reform is the answer. Geewhisikers, everybody. How about a sign that the message got through – OB’s playgrounds are for shit.


Nanci Kelly November 15, 2017 at 11:35 am

As a grandmother and retired teacher, I’ve thought about our playgrounds as well and pretty much align with your grades, especially of the Robb Field playground. Of course my granddaughter, 4, loves them all, but there are so many wonderful play structures that are available these days – I agree that our kids deserve to have excellent playground maintenance and periodic improvement/upgrading of the equipment. Your grades are right-on, Bella!


john November 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

Some of the equipment is 45 years or older, making it potentially historic. The newer “plastic” and “plastic playgrounds are much more dangerous due to toxicity, off gassing, etc.. Older well maintained equipment is important to keep. See the National Trust for Historic Preservation article on playgrounds. Children need to explore their environment and not be cocooned. See articles on “adventure playgrounds.” These design stimulate children’s mind and body.


triggerfinger November 15, 2017 at 11:52 am

Right on the beach seems like a challenging environment for equipment, especially considering our derelict city workers.

Does anyone have old photos or more info on the 2 parks where play equipment was removed?


scott November 15, 2017 at 12:34 pm

I basically agree with your granddaughter’s assessment. I take my 3 year old to the Ebers/Saratoga park almost daily and she loves it. Robb Field and Dusty Rhodes are jokes. We go sometimes but she lasts about 5 minutes before getting bored. I was hoping for the tot lot at Saratoga park before she turned 20 but I’ve given that dream up and as more and more projects (like the Veterans Park) eliminate the open green space that is intensely used a lot of the time I’ve come to think we need to keep all of Saratoga Park free for the Yogis, circus people, slack liners, acrobats, and whatever interesting stuff comes along in the future.


Frank Gormlie November 15, 2017 at 1:25 pm



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